My journeys have taken me to some strange places, ranging from the creepiness of an abandoned lunatic asylum, to the quiet, vast emptiness of a forgotten chapel, but nothing quite like the abandoned home of a former professional boxer. After being arrested here in 2013 it was nice to make a return trip, thankfully not ending in a $280 fine, to finally photograph the very odd forgotten structure of Mike Tyson’s abandoned 1980s mansion.
Now retired, the once undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, otherwise known as Iron Mike, still holds a record for being the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at only 20 years old. Mike Tyson became a very opulent man, even if for just a moment before spending his money on multiple mansions, drugs and living a wild party-filled lifestyle, which eventually led to him filing bankruptcy in August of 2003.
In his early years of fame and riches, Tyson decided to purchase a mansion on land in Southington, Ohio, where he lived during the 1980s. To many, this would seem like quite a random placement to build a multimillion-dollar mansion, but it put him not far from one of his trainers. The mansion was decked out with crystal chandeliers, a pool larger than most homes, tiger print carpet and everything else necessary to make it the epitome of a 70s/80s party pad.
In March of 2011, Tyson appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, speaking of how he had been living a sober and drug free lifestyle for the past two years prior, happy that it has helped improve the quality of his life. Not long after, in August of 2013 he admitted to the public that he had lied about a newfound sobriety and was practically on the verge of death due to alcoholism. Only a few months later, Tyson appeared on Fox News, admitting to finally making progress in a now truly sober lifestyle. Tyson said that he believed being in the company of good people has made him want to turn his life around for the better.
On a cold winter day, current owners granted me permission to access the property to photograph its current condition of decay and neglect. I was able to speak with them, learning that the house was soon to become a lively church and how they planned to carry out this restoration. As I wandered the halls and rooms of this large vacant space, I could only imagine the wild parties that must have taken place within these walls. There I stood, looking across a living room that was once full of life, but now remains empty of parties, tigers or celebrities. It was odd to think that I was staring down a place the famous Mike Tyson once called home.
The mansion has sat abandoned for years as multiple individuals have made attempts to purchase and reuse the property, always ending in failure. Finally, come December of 2014 the property was purchased by a church with big plans to bring it a brand new life, now beginning to make big moves toward their vision in 2015. I’ve seen a few restorations throughout my work as a photojournalist, but nothing so contrasting as this, and I can definitely say that I’m excited to document the ongoing restoration throughout the year, seeing it brought back to life.
The group plans to renovate Tyson’s former home into the “Living Word Sanctuary.” They would even like for Mike to attend the first gathering inside the churches sanctuary. Who knows, maybe this could happen? All I can do is hope to help by sharing this story far and wide, maybe bringing his attention to this matter. It could be quite an experience for him walking through his former home, seeing it brought to a completely different light.